Chelsea Culprit – “Ask the cinders”


Chelsea Culprit – “Ask the cinders”
Curated by Vincent Vanden Bogaard
27th June – 13th September 2024

Solito – Galleria S1
Piazza Enrico De Nicola 46, Naples
Former Lanificio complex – Staircase B – 1st floor

As the program of the first artist residency reaches its completion, Solito Galleries leads forward the 2024 exhibition program with the opening of an exhibition titled “Ask the cinders” by Chelsea Culprit, curated by Vincent Vanden Bogaard. As a result of the production made during her stay in Naples, Chelsea Culprit (b.1984 – USA) presents for the first time in Italy a selection of unpublished works made for S1, Solito Group’s main gallery in the former Lanificio di Porta Capuana complex.

In her artistic pursuit, Chelsea Culprit delves deeply into the performance of gender, the visual narratives of labor history, the articulation of gender within the natural world, and the ethereal realms of folk spirituality and ancestry. Embracing a state of heightened consciousness in the present moment, she allows unexpected revelations to inform her work.
Recently, her focus has gravitated towards these latter themes. During a six-week residency in Naples, Culprit immersed herself in the city’s secular traditions, navigating a tapestry of historical milieus and unraveling the complex weave of diverse cultures, mythologies, and anthropological influences.
This period marked an intricate journey of recollection and reconnection, characterized by a rhythmic dance of advancing and retreating ideas and decisions. Culprit seized this opportunity to expand the boundaries of her engagement with craftsmanship, ritual, and exploration. She embraced the practice of charcoal making fires with scavenged wood collected from sacral places and areas of the city such as the Capodimonte and the Vesuvius Parks, and the Botanical Garden. Throughout her travels, she gathered elements to concoct natural pigments and handmade colors, integrating materials like tuff powder, calcium carbonate, copper oxide, and coffee residue. This palette became a tactile extension of her daily experiences in the city. In collaboration with the Gallery and local artisanal neon makers, she conceived an additional piece for the exhibition, featuring a neon sculpture, a creature reminiscent of a harpy, embodying the synthesis of Culprit’s latest artistic evolution.
Culprit’s residency also encompassed numerous visits to Naples’ MANN – National Archeological Museum and other emblematic sites, such as the Museo e Real Bosco di Capodimonte, the Phlegraean Fields Archeological Park, the Sibyl’s Cave in Cumae, the Veiled Christ at Sansevero Chapel MuseumNational Archaeological Museum, enriching her understanding of the city’s unique blend of history and mythology. Immersing herself in the cultural layers that define Naples’ singular aura, she absorbed influences from art history, diverse cultural imagery, and spiritual traditions, weaving these into a coherent lexicon. This lexicon, informed by Greco-Roman architecture, rituals, dances, female deities, and beliefs, was further enriched by her contemplation of the natural landscape.
In “Ask the Cinders” Culprit attempts to distill these intricate elements of natural and spiritual history into her work. The exhibition title evokes multiple interpretations: a literal reference to myths and mystic figures, a nod to her creative process in Naples using self-crushed pigment dust, and a metaphor for the dispersion of bodies and faith, manifested through choreographed gestures. The cinders also symbolize the traces of Mount Vesuvius, echoing the ancient call for divination and prophecy.
The exhibition showcases a collection of artworks, charcoal and pigment works on raw canvas of varying dimensions, born from Culprit’s residency at the ex Lanificio, a former industrial and labor district of Naples. These pieces encapsulate her exploration of the mythological DNA interwoven with Christianity and pre-Christian pagan cults, tracing the absorption of goddess worship through the evolution of Christian iconography. (VVB)

We would like to thank: Officina Keller of arch. Antonio Martiniello for the urban regeneration work that for years has involved the area of Porta Capuana and the former Lanificio complex, thanks to the social integration activities of local artisan realities; Valeria Apicella‘s Punto Zero Atelier for the support and residency program made available during the artist’s stay in Naples; Lanificio Digitale, the open innovation HUB, which has created the digital platform to support Solito’s activities; Archivio and Emblema Museum and the Emblema family for their welcoming, the visits and their friendship.

Keywords (References for a deeper understanding of the artist’s practice)
To understand Chelsea Culprit’s practice and go beyond the aesthetics and symbolism in her works, one must go back to 1875, New York, when theosophy was founded. This new esoteric-philosophical doctrine initiates a new aesthetic where art no longer preaches a religion or a classical spirituality alone, neither directly nor through symbols. “Theosophical art” raised the beholder, and the artist, to a higher dimension of being, through beauty. In theory various art forms can achieve this effect but in practice, at this stage of human evolution, post-symbolic or abstract art is most effective.
The esotericism is the doctrine which states that there is a secret beyond the surface of things which reveals their ultimate truth, and it is accessible to those who embark on an initiatory journey by indulging in the ecstasy of art.
By inserting oneself into the evolutionary movement of the universe, one is called to cooperate in the reverse process of “ascent” or spiritualization, where thoughts and feelings have shapes and colors that a clairvoyant eye can discern together with sounds, resulting in synesthesia.
Aerology; Aeromancy; Anthroposophy; Cabbala; Divination; Primitivism; Fourth Dimension; Shamanism; Synesthesia; Symbolic Theosophy; Transcendental Painting Group; Clairvoyance.
Soundtrack: Ali Farka Tourè, Toumani Diabatè – Ruby

Chelsea Culprit (b. 1984 in Paducah, KY – USA) earned BFA studio art and BA art history at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL in 2007.
Drawing from histories of labor, gender, dance, craft, folk spirituality, and personal ancestry, Culprit’s works knit together representations of the body’s capacity for play, display, pleasure, performance, and the intractability of freedom and personal bondage. Moving freely between the imagery of folk art, the materiality of contemporary life, and modes of abstraction and symbolism, the artist works in various mediums including neon light, sculptural assemblage, installation, painting, and printmaking.
Recent solo exhibitions include Pole on Break, Queer Thoughts, New York, USA (2022); Amygdala in Repose, Morán Morán, Los Angeles, USA (2022); Malas Madres, Lulu, Mexico City, Mexico (2019); Fear of Seduction, Queer Thoughts at Maureen Paley, London, UK (2019). Culprit’s work has been featured in recent group exhibitions at Museo Tamayo Arte Contemporáneo, Mexico City, Mexico (2020), Museo Arte de Zapopan, Guadalajara, Mexico (2020); Palais de Tokyo, Paris, France (2019); Museum of Modern Art Warsaw, Warsaw, Poland (2019); Revolver Gallery, Lima, Peru (2019); Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne, Australia (2018); and Museo de Arte Carillo Gil, Mexico City, Mexico (2018). Her work is represented by Morán Morán, Los Angeles and Mexico City; Queer Thoughts, New York City; and Galeria Revolver, Lima, Buenos Aires, and New York City.
Chelsea Culprit lives and works in Conesville, New York, USA and Mexico City, Mexico.

Vincent Vanden Bogaard (b.1986) is an esteemed Belgian curator with a full-bodied and important resume and an independent consultant who has developed over time a strong knowledge and strategic vision for companies in the contemporary art market.

In 2024, Solito Galleries’ project continues its exhibition program, curated by Vincent Vanden Bogaard. In addition to Chelsea Culprit‘s opening with “Ask the cinders” at Galleria S1 in the former Lanificio Complex, Jean-Michel’s site-specific show “Out Run” is still on going at the historic Galleria S2 in Piazza Bellini 59.

The formula also includes the relaunch in the new guise of the Solito brand, a small holding company that also manages a digital platform (awardee project of a ministerial call for Cultura Crea) and the iemme publishing project born in 2011. The project of re-branding and repositioning of the brand and the visual outline is curated by Milan-based Hapto Studio.

All initiatives are promoted on the new website

Galleria Solito announces the release of the map, Contemporary Art Galleries in Naples 2024, in which it is included alongside the city’s major galleries. It will be available for free at our locations and other outlets.

Solito – Galleria S1
Piazza Enrico De Nicola 46, Naples
Former Lanificio complex – Staircase B – 1st floor
Monday – Friday > 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. / Saturday and Sunday > by appointment |
S1 – 081 304 19 19 | S2 – 081 45 13 58 | S3 – 081 304 19 19
Communication and press editor-in-chief: Marco Polito


Chelsea Culprit – “Ask the cinders”
27 Jun, 24
13 Sep, 24
Chelsea Culprit
Vincent Vanden Bogaard
Piazza Enrico De Nicola 46, Naples - Former Lanificio complex - Staircase B - 1st floor
Galleria Solito
Roberto Della Noce